Dr. Kristin Swenson
7 October 2014
Plastic Surgery Plastic surgery is becoming a dominant industry in our world today. We often see men and women partake in it to make themselves look younger or transform themselves into the person they really want to be. As defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary, plastic surgery is the surgery that improves or repairs the form or appearance of body parts (“Plastic Surgery”). With plastic surgery, one can alter any part of the body to how they would like their appearance to be. We talked about Foucault and how he looks at the human body and brought up the term “docile bodies”. In a Foucauldian sense we can look at plastic surgery as a means of people control their own bodies and they have power over their bodies. This raises the issue of what is right and wrong and the term fakery comes into play from the chapter, “The Identity Bazaar”. Plastic surgery alters one’s appearance and shows that a person has total control over their body in a Foucauldian sense. In Foucault’s book, Discipline and Punish, he talks about the body and how it’s disciplines and punishments have evolved over the years. He goes into detail about docile bodies, which means a body than can be altered or changed and has discipline (Foucault). We can relate plastic to surgery to one having power over their own body and they have the power to therefore change it. Throughout this book it talks in great deal about power and knowledge and that knowledge derives its authority from certain relationships of power and domination describes the knowledge that relates to human nature and behavior (Foucault). Foucault talks about the body and starts off with a scene of an execution and all it’s gruesome details. The display of the body for the form of punishment has greatly changed throughout the years. It started off from public execution, which of course displays the body in horrific ways and it now is aimed at the soul instead of the body directly (Foucault). Through the form of punishment, people are now put in prison, which is installed to shape one’s soul and transform it into being a better person. The goal is no longer to punish the body and we have to realize that body and punishment are closely related. Through this book we connect plastic surgery to that of power in Foucauldian terms. In the chapter, “The Identity Bazaar”, from the book Better than Well: American Medicine Meets the American Dream, it talked about plastic surgery as an enhancement technology (Elliot). People use plastic surgery to change or alter their appearance in the means of self-expression. Elliot talks about the issues this raises and the fact that maybe they are covering up their true identity (Elliot). This chapter of Better than Well was all about finding your true identity and expressing it through your outer body, so the idea of plastic surgery came up as a way to express yourself outward and to alter it to be you (Elliot). Fakery came up as well and talked about how that by doing this and changing your appearance could possibly then change who you really are and hide the person you really are. In the chapter it used the example of one getting a nose job and how maybe they would be hiding their “Jewishness” (Elliot). Is it in a fact just that in a Foucauldian sense though? I don’t think so, because by the definition that Foucault provides for the term “docile bodies”, plastic surgery stays within those means of the definition. I found a reading by Kim Toffoletti titled, Cyborgs and Barbie Dolls: Feminism, Popular Culture and the Posthuman Body. This reading went a little into detail about plastic surgery and what Foucault would think of it or define it. It stated, “Anne Balsamo also uses Foucauldian theory, in particular the notion of bio power, in her analysis of cosmetic surgeries. Her primary criticism is that the viewing technologies used in medical and scientific discourse exercise control upon the female body.